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The Autobiography Of St Ignatius by Saint Ignatius Loyola


He left for Paris on foot and alone, and, according to his own reckoning, arrived there toward the beginning of February, 1528. While in prison, the Prince of Spain was born, and from this event we can determine the date of what preceded and followed. At Paris he lived with some Spaniards, and attended the lectures given at the College of Montaigu. As he had been advanced too rapidly to the higher studies, he returned to those of a lower grade, because he felt that in great part he lacked the proper groundwork. He therefore studied in a class with children. When he first came to Paris, he received from a merchant twenty-five gold crowns on an order sent from Barcelona. These he put for safekeeping in the hands of one of the Spaniards with whom he lived. This latter very soon appropriated them for his own use, and when called upon, could not restore them. The result was that when Lent was over Ignatius found himself unprovided for, partly on account of the loss mentioned, and partly on account of other expenses. In consequence, he was forced to seek his livelihood by begging, and to leave the house where he lived.

Afterward he was received into the Hospital of St. James, near the Church of the Holy Innocents. This residence proved no slight hindrance to his studies. The hospital was at a great distance from the college, and while he could not gain admission at night unless he returned before the sound of the Angelus, in the morning he was not allowed to depart before daylight. He could not, in consequence, be present at, nor give his time to, the lectures with profit. He found another hindrance, also, in loss of the time needed in getting alms wherewith to purchase food.

As he had not experienced interior spiritual suffering for almost five years, he mortified himself by austere fasts and penances. After he had spent some time in this way, living in the hospital and begging his food, he noticed that his progress in letters was not rapid. He then considered what course to follow. He had observed that many who lived as servants of the lecturers in the colleges had abundant time for study. He resolved to seek some one whom he might serve in the same way. He weighed the matter well, and not without consolation thought of it as follows: |I shall imagine that my master is Christ, and I shall call one of the students Peter, another John, and to the rest I shall give the names of the remaining Apostles. Then, when my master gives me a command, I shall think, that Christ commands me. When any one else gives orders, I shall think that the order comes from St. Peter or some other Apostle.| He was very diligent in seeking a master, and spoke of the matter to a bachelor and to a Carthusian monk, who knew many masters, and to others, but he was never able to find one.

Deprived of every resource, he was told by a Spanish monk that it would be a wise step for him to go every year to Flanders, and there in two months he could procure enough for the whole year. He approved of the plan, after recommending the matter to God. On adopting this plan, he brought back yearly from Flanders whatever he needed for his maintenance. Once even he passed over into England, and from there brought greater alms than he had gathered in the previous years.

When he first returned from Flanders he began to devote himself earnestly to spiritual work. About the same time he gave the Exercises to three persons, -- to Peralta, to Castro, a friend who dwelt at Sorbonne, and to a Cantabrian who lived in the College of St. Barbara, by name Amator. A great change was made in the lives of these men. At once they gave to the poor whatever they had, even their books, while they themselves began to live on the alms they begged, and to dwell in the Hospital of St. James, where Ignatius had previously dwelt, and which he left as stated above. This incident aroused a great outcry in the University of Paris, because the two first were very famous men. The other Spaniards at once undertook to oppose them, but unable to persuade them by any argument to return to the university, a great crowd went armed to the hospital and led, or rather dragged, them away.

On coming to the university they agreed with their captors to complete their course of studies, and afterward to follow out their determination. Castro went afterward to Spain, and after preaching for a while at Burgos, joined the Order of the Carthusians at Valencia. Peralta undertook a journey to Jerusalem on foot and after the fashion of a pilgrim. In this garb he was seized in Italy by a military leader, his relative, who found a pretext for bringing him before the Sovereign Pontiff, from whom he obtained a command for Peralta to return to Spain. All these events did not occur then, but years afterward. Exaggerated reports arose against Ignatius at Paris, especially among the Spaniards. De Govea was wont to say that Amator, who remained in his college, had been brought by Ignatius to the verge of insanity. He therefore made up his mind that as soon as Ignatius came to the College of St. Barbara, he would give him a public whipping as a seducer of the pupils.

Now the Spaniard who had spent the money of Ignatius and had not paid him, had set out to journey to Spain and fallen sick. As soon as Ignatius learned of this, he was seized with a longing to visit and help him, hoping by this to lead him to abandon the world and give himself wholly to God. And indeed to accomplish this he wished to make the journey barefooted, without food or drink. While praying for this purpose, he felt himself seized with great fear until, entering the Church of St. Dominic, he resolved to make the journey in this manner. The fear that it might be tempting God then left him; on the morning of the following day, upon arising, so great a fear seized him that it seemed to him that he could not even put on his clothes. In this interior strife he left the house and went out of the city, and the fear did not leave him till he was nine miles from Paris. At this distance there is a village which the inhabitants call Argenteuil, where the Holy Coat of Our Lord is said to be preserved. As he left this place in great trouble of spirit, a feeling of great consolation and strength filled his soul with such joy that he began to shout aloud and to talk with God as he walked through the fields. That night, having completed forty-five miles, he went to rest with a beggar in a hospital. On the next day toward nightfall he lodged in a straw-thatched cabin. On the third day he arrived on foot. According to his resolve, he took neither food nor drink. Upon his arrival he consoled the sick man, helped him on board a vessel which was about to sail for Spain, and gave him letters to his companions, Calisto, Caceres, and Artiaga, who were in Salamanca. Here we may dwell for a moment on the fate of these companions. While Ignatius was at Paris he often sent them letters, telling them of the little hope left of calling them to Paris for their studies. Still he urged by letter Donna Leonora de Mascarenas to use her influence with the King of Portugal for Calisto, that he might receive one of the burses which the King had established. A certain yearly aid is called a burse. Donna Leonora gave Calisto a mule and money to take him to the court of the King of Portugal. He set out, but never reached that place. He came back afterward to Spain and went to India. He returned rich, to the great surprise of all at Salamanca, who had known him in former days. Caceres, after returning to Segovia, his native city, began to grow unmindful of his former purpose and life. Artiaga was first made a magistrate. Afterward, when the Society was established at Rome, a bishopric was given to him. He wrote to Ignatius, |I wish this bishopric to be given to one of the Society.| But as soon as the answer came that this was not to be done, he went to India, was made bishop, and died there a strange death. While sick it chanced that two phials of liquid were placed in water to cool, one containing a medicine ordered for him by the doctor, the other a diluted poison called Sollimanus. His attendant gave him by mistake the poisoned draught, which he drank, and thus ended his life.

Returning to Paris Ignatius heard many rumors connecting his name with that of Caceres and Peralta, and learned that he had been summoned before the judge. As he did not wish to remain in doubt, he went of his own accord to the Inquisitor, a Dominican friar. |I heard that I had been sought for, and I now present myself.| During the conversation he asked the Inquisitor to terminate the matter speedily. He had determined to begin his course in arts on the approaching feast of St. Remigius, and therefore wished all other business completed in order to apply himself to his studies with greater profit. The Inquisitor on his part told him that it was true that certain charges had been made against him, but he allowed him to depart, and did not summon him again.

Toward the first of October, the feast of St. Remigius, he began his course under the preceptor Master John Pegna, with the intention of fostering the vocations of those who wished to serve God. He intended to add others in order the more freely to give his mind to his studies. He followed the lectures in philosophy, and experienced the same temptations with which he had been assailed when studying grammar at Barcelona. During the lectures he was troubled by so many spiritual thoughts that he could not listen attentively. Accordingly, as he saw he was making but little progress in his studies, he spoke to his preceptor and promised to attend the lectures, as long as he could find bread and water enough to keep him alive. After making this promise, all these untimely devotions ceased to disturb him, and he quietly pursued his studies. He was at this period a friend of Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, whom he afterward led to the service of God by giving them the Exercises. During the last years he was not persecuted as at first. Speaking of this to him one day, Doctor Fragus remarked that he was surprised that no one molested him. Ignatius replied: |This is owing to the fact that I do not speak on religious topics. But when the course is completed, we shall act as formerly.|

During the course of this conversation a monk approached Doctor Fragus and begged his aid in visiting a house, in which there were many corpses of those whom he thought died of the plague. At that time the plague was beginning to spread in Paris. Doctor Fragus and Ignatius wished to visit the house, and procured the aid of a woman who was very skilful in detecting the disease. After she had entered the house she answered that the plague was certainly there. Ignatius, also, entered and consoled and revived a sick man he found lying there. When he had touched the wounds with his hand, Ignatius departed alone. His hand began to cause him great pain, and it seemed as if he had caught the disease. The fear that came upon him was so great that he was unable to vanquish and drive it away, until with a great effort he placed his fingers in his mouth, and for a long time kept them there, saying, |If you have the plague in your hand, you will also have it in your mouth.| As soon as this was done, the illusion left him and the pain he had felt in his hand ceased.

He was not allowed to enter the College of St. Barbara where he was then living, for all fled from him when they learned that he had entered a house infected with the plague. He was obliged to remain several days outside of the college.

At Paris it is customary for those who follow the philosophical studies to receive in their third year the Petra, as it is called, in order to obtain the bachelor's degree. Now those who are very poor are unable to comply with this custom, as it costs a gold crown. While Ignatius was in great hesitation, he submitted the matter to the judgment of his preceptor. The latter advised him to receive it. He did so, but not without a complaint on the part of some, especially of a certain Spaniard who had taken note of the fact.

While in Paris he suffered great pains of the stomach for several days. On the twenty-fifth day, for the space of an hour, a very severe pain seized him, bringing with it a fever. One day the pains lasted for sixteen or seventeen hours. At that time he had already concluded his course, had spent some years in the study of theology, and had collected his companions.

As the disease grew worse day by day, and the many remedies employed brought no relief, the doctors said that the only one left for him was to revisit his native land, as nothing but his native air could cure him. His companions gave him the same advice. By this time all had determined on their future conduct, namely, to go first to Venice, and then to Jerusalem, where they would pass their whole life in helping souls. If, however, they should not be allowed to remain in Jerusalem, they were to return to Rome and offer themselves to the Sovereign Pontiff, Christ's Vicar, that he might use their aid as he thought would be for God's glory and the salvation of souls. They also agreed to wait one year at Venice for ships to carry them to the Holy Land; but if during the year no ship were at hand, they should be absolved from the vow, and go to the Sovereign Pontiff. Finally Ignatius yielded to the advice of his companions, in order to attend to their business in Spain. It was agreed among them, that after the recovery of his health he should settle their affairs and they should go to Venice, and there await him.

He left Paris in the year 1535, but according to the agreement his companions were to leave two years afterward on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. However, owing to the wars, they were obliged to anticipate that time, and to set out from Paris in the month of November in the year 1536. On the very eve of his departure, as Ignatius had heard that an accusation had been made against him before the Inquisitor, while no summons had as yet been served, he went to that official and stated what he had heard. At the same time he told him that he had several companions, and that he himself was about to travel to Spain, and requested that sentence should be passed upon him. The Inquisitor admitted that the accusation had been made, but that he did not think it worthy of consideration. He said that he wished merely to see the writings of Ignatius, meaning the Exercises. Having seen these he approved of them very highly, and begged Ignatius to give him a copy. Ignatius complied with his request, but insisted that his trial be brought to an end, and that judgment be passed. As his request met with a refusal, he brought a notary and witnesses to the Inquisitor's house, and received their testimony in writing concerning his innocence of the charges.

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